The Goodness of God
It has been an incredible week, so much so that the song displayed in this blog title kept running through my mind. It's one thing to sing about it, another to experience it, and to experience it in abundance. Listen if you like to the song by Jenn Johnson it will certainly lift your spirit.
We started this week with an awesome Xcelerate meeting where we fed both physically and spiritually about 100 people. During that meeting Darryll, who we have been in partnership for the last 3 1/2 years delivered a most exceptional message of hope that reminded me of how his enormously painful experience had produced such a change of life. The goodness of God had brought him through.
Then, about 11 PM the next night a woman in the program texted me that 5 women wanted to be Baptized after another meeting where we put into place another man of God who had returned home after a long period of darkness. Only the goodness of God brought him home and now here was Robert "Smooth" Colbert preaching and pointing others to the light he had once turned off because his life had so much pain.
The next night a man who was in a meeting I led at Step By Step Recovery several years ago showed me my watch that I had given him because his was broken. Through his relapses he had held onto it because he couldn't believe someone would replace his broken watch with one taken off their own hand. He had experienced the goodness of God literally firsthand, and maybe that watch reminded him it was time to stop inflicting pain upon himself.
Then Thursday a man dropped in to ATB that I had referred to Lakeview Hospital who was in work release through the County Jail. We gave him clothes, fed him, prayed with him and spoke for awhile about his next steps. He hugged me before I even had a chance to get out of my chair. He was able to see the goodness of God through his own period of incarceration.
Finally, last night was agonizing for me. Probably from all the lifting and moving donations during the week my left leg cramped up with pain so bad I could not sit down. Wouldn't have been so bad if I was home but it happened in the middle of a meeting at ATB and I still had to get in my truck to drive home which meant I had to sit. No matter what I did for 30 minutes I couldn't sit without intense pain.
I began to pray that God would take me home. After closing up I got in my truck and though there was some initial hurting I found a position to straighten my leg that had no pain. All the way home I was praising the Lord for his goodness, realizing that experiencing pain was sometimes the only way to appreciate his true goodness.
In every example written here there was a period of pain, a season of darkness or a momentary moment of agony. Through it all he has been faithful as the song says because The Goodness of God never takes a moment, a day or a season off.
Through it all, the storms, the pain, the trials, the goodness of God will bring us through, I have no doubt!
Where's The Love?
In the video Church Pew or Barstool Clayton Jennings asks several compelling questions and poses some conclusions, the first being Where's The Love? He surmises that sometimes there is more love on a barstool than we will find in a church after telling a story about an alcoholic friend of his who had a bad experience in a church.
He concludes that we are all in need of love, "we are just people, people in need of love". This is an obvious point but how many times have we Christians missed this point? It's not how another person looks, smells or how many tattoo's they have, it's about how we react toward our fellow human beings, with judgement, love or hatred.
Jesus made a couple major points about this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself and By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. A great question here is exactly what did he mean by "love"? Some define it much differently than others, unconditional love, passionate love, tough love, Barry White love and so forth.
How about the way a pregnant woman has to be during her nine months or so of pregnancy, the emotional and physical changes she endures, or the man who has to defend his family physically even if he suffers harm, isn't that love? Of course it is, but real true love as defined by For God so loved the world not only involves physical pain, it involves dealing with folks who may be considered a pain in the ass. (Yes that's a biblical word). Let that one sink in.
I've got more for you this Wednesday night at Real Talk Recovery, but all it takes is one read of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 to understand that giving love is just as important as receiving it, in fact it may be the key to understanding love fully....and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And in verse 7, Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Where's the love? It's in all ways and it's always not just on the days or in the situations we feel like we want to.
There are so many folks who look down on those of us who have dealt with addiction. In many cases the reason they look down on us is that they are dealing with these same issues themselves in some form or fashion including workaholism, sex or food addiction. It's real believe me. In other cases some really good folks get tired of our drama, cheating, lying and stealing. That's real as well.
Truth is that the people who are battling to find freedom from addiction are some of the most courageous people I know who are overcoming incredible odds to change their life. Yes, we have been knuckleheads, yes we are tough to love and deal with, but on the other hand we are something to behold when we get right.
I have found through my own journey that grace is the keyword to recovery, understanding we are getting something we don't deserve in order to forgive ourselves and others, as well as sustaining us through every battle we face. God is with us, he is for us and he has fought for us and will continue to do so. Thus Jesus, the ultimate warrior who is giving us a pathway to freedom where honesty and tenacity prevail.
Love this scripture: And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always have all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Cor 9:8
For us knuckleheads this means we have access to ALL of God's blessings, mercy, forgiveness, power and courage to fight that results in an ABUNDANCE to give back to and influence others with our stories of recovery. This is how we fight our battle.....he has already won it for us, we just need to latch on to His mighty Sustaining Grace to go through what we need to go through.
Sounds simple. God said it, he gave it, it's just up to us to believe it. Once we understand it addiction will never have a hold on us again.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.